Who ever heard of preschoolers wearing dentures? THEY ARE TOO YOUNG FOR DENTURES! You may have heard this, even from your dentist. You may have even thought this. But guess what? It’s simply not true! Dentures for kids are a necessity if they are missing teeth due to ectodermal dysplasias.
Many kiddos affected by ectodermal dysplasias wear dentures at a very young age. The National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias (NFED) strongly encourages children to have and wear dentures before they start school. We have more success stories of 3-year-olds wearing dentures than we can count! And, many of these success stories took place 10, 20, even 30+ years ago. This means that dentures for kids is not a new concept.
Why do we take this stand and why is this so important for your child? Here are seven reasons.
Benefits of Dentures for Kids
- Improved jaw development and tissue development around the mouth.
- Improved esthetics/appearances – Dentures will create an age-appropriate facial appearance. The children do not have the “old man” appearance resulting from over closure of the jaws.
- Improved social well being – The children are happy and smiles instead of frowning, For the most part, their mouth looks like their peers. All of their friends have teeth! Kids want to fit in.
- Improved psychological well being – Children will feel better about themselves and as a result, will exhibit more self-confidence. Small children affected with an obvious physical deformity, such as the lack of teeth, run the risk of low self-esteem.
- Improved nutrition – Digestion begins when you put food in your mouth. Chewing is an important to digestion and nutrition. If children can’t chew, they can’t eat all of the healthy, yummy foods that are available.
- Improved speech development – Teeth greatly improve speech and increase vocabulary and communicative skills. This makes it easier for children to communicate with their friends and family and share their ideas and thoughts with everyone.
- Psychological uplift to the entire family – By improving the child’s appearance, you provide for a more normal physical development and you enhance better social and emotional adjustment. Your child and your entire family will rejoice in wearing dentures successfully!
Problems do and will arise. However, in most instances, you can overcome these hurdles through a cooperative effort between you, your child and the dentist. It requires teamwork! Be persistent with both your dentist and your child. Advocate for your child, talk to other parents and contact our office for advice and support.
Responding to Obstacles
You may run into dentists who will tell you or at least think the following:
- “I have been making dentures for adults, and you expect me to treat this 2- or 3-year-old?” Your response: “Yes, I do. The benefits far outweigh the challenges.”
- “I’m really uninformed about the nature of the problems associated with ectodermal dysplasia.” Your response: “Are you willing to learn? The National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias (NFED) offers resources which can help you. They can connect you with dentists with valuable expertise.”
- “I’ve never really made dentures for someone this small.” Your response: “I understand from the NFED that the process is the same. The patient is just smaller. It can be done. There are many success stories.”
- “I was not taught this in dental school.” Your response: “I understand that you may not have experience. Are you willing to learn?”
- “We have to wait until your child is grown to do any dental treatment.” Your response: “The NFED recommends that children receive dentures by the time they go to school because of all of the benefits. I want this treatment for my child and will not wait.”
Be armed with information to counter these statements. We offer lots of great information you should take to your dentist. Our Parameters of Oral Healthcare for Oral Care for Individuals Affected by Ectodermal Dysplasias thoroughly outlines the range of dental treatment options that are appropriate at each of your age of your child’s life.
Finding a Dental Expert
Finding a dentist with any experience, let alone extensive experience, in treating the dental needs of children with ectodermal dysplasia is very rare. The chance of treating a pediatric case during training, even in specialty programs, is not very great. The chance of seeing cases in the average dental practice is also rare. Most dentists learn to treat the dental problems associated with ectodermal dysplasias by simply expressing interest in learning more information, taking time to talk to parents, other mentors or calling the NFED. So, yes, it may be up to you, the parent, to help educate your dentist.
Dollars for Dentures
If you need help paying for the dentures, apply to our Treatment Assistance Program. Be sure and read through the criteria. Providing dentures for kids is a priority for this program.
Remember: Every child deserves a smile. Especially yours! Every child needs teeth for nutrition, speech and facial structure. Advocate strongly for dentures before school. Stay tuned. In a future blog, we will offer tips to get your child to wear the dentures!